July 1, 2021

SPE technology, the future of Industry 4.0 applications?

Single Pair Ethernet opens up completely new possibilities and application areas for industrial Ethernet. This new network technology allows ethernet communication and power over a single pair of wires, offering many advantages and will become the support for Industry 4.0 and IIoT.

Single Pair Ethernet cable - IndustrySingle Pair Ethernet cable - Industry

What is Single Pair Ethernet?

Single Pair Ethernet, SPE, is the transmission of Ethernet over a single pair. This technology transmits power (PoDl, Power over Dataline) and data at speeds of up to 1 Gb/s over short distances via just two twisted copper wires.

Conventional 4-pair RJ45 LAN cables operate over two pairs for Fast Ethernet and four pairs for Gigabit Ethernet.

Comparison of Ethernet cablesComparison of Ethernet cables


The SPE offers many advantages, making it indispensable in some cabling infrastructures.

  - It enables seamless and constant Ethernet-based communication from the sensor to the cloud.

  - It is a key technology for Industry 4.0 and IIoT, a guarantee for the future.

  - It will eventually replace proprietary industrial networks: Fieldbus.

  - SPE cables integrate with existing infrastructures, requiring little wiring work.

  - Space and weight savings are achieved by running a single pair of conductors.

  - Allows transmission rates of up to 1 Gbit/s or ranges of up to 1,000m at 10Mbit/s.


The normative point

The SPE is not a proprietary technology, it has been created by several industry leaders - the 7 founding members of the SPE association - and referenced by several international standards committees: the assurance of quality for an infrastructure that meets established standards.


IEC 63171-6 standard: defines connectors for SPE

IEC 61156 -X standard: defines cables and standards for SPE transmission


Standard Installation Data Distance Status
IEC 61156-11 Fixed 1 Gbit/s 40m Published
IEC 61156-12 Flexible 1 Gbit/s 40m Application 2020
IEC 61156-13 Fixed 10 Mbit/s 1000m Draft
IEC 61156-14 Flexible 10 Mbit/s 1000m In progress

EPS is the key technology for Industry 4.0

The factory of the future will require high data flows and the industrial sector needs connectivity solutions that adapt to the ever increasing demands. The need for productivity gains coupled with low installation costs is paramount to the industry. Single Pair Ethernet (SPE) is the foundation of the infrastructure that makes IIoT and Industry 4.0 possible.


Read our whitepaper on Industry 4.0:

What is the difference between IoT and IIoT?

-  L’IoT :

Connecting everyday objects (light bulbs, smart appliances) to the Internet, meets the needs of the general public and brings comfort.

L’IIoT :

Responds to reactivity and reliability constraints, for productivity and predictive maintenance needs of industry professionals.

SPE technology was originally developed for the automotive industry for in-car data transmission, replacing CANBUS systems. Smart cars take advantage of this SPE technology for features such as: parking assistance, steering assistance such as lane departure warning systems or automated emergency braking.


Since then, this technology has been progressively brought into applications where its installation results in space and weight savings, notably industrial automation. The SPE gives intelligence to the equipment, thus reducing the need for parameterisation, initialisation, or programming operations.

Will the SPE replace the existing Ethernet?

SPE should not replace traditional 4-pair Ethernet. Each application requires different solutions, and it is not always appropriate to switch from standard Ethernet to SPE technology in its current state of development and standardisation:

  - SPE in 1 GBit/s only transmits over a distance of 40 metres, whereas 4-pair Ethernet has a transmission length of up to 100 metres.

  - Not all existing interfaces and devices are yet compatible and need to be converted or changed, which represents a significant investment for an organisation.

Caracteristiques SPECaracteristiques SPE

SPE Association

The SPE Industry Partner Association is a group of 45 members who are joining forces to advance single-pair Ethernet technology as a pillar for the growth of IIot in the marketplace.

The association's goal is to establish SPE as a new Ethernet technology in the sense of a complete ecosystem with all necessary compatible components in the market.


Member of the association since 2020, CAE GROUPE and its industrial division AXINDUS combine their knowledge of connectivity to support emerging technologies in the factory of the future. Deploying IIot, standardising infrastructures within factories and buildings, optimising our solutions: these are our objectives for this new technological era.


Discover our profile on the SPE website: